“For a story to be exceptional, it needs an original plot,” says a book reviewer, non-verbatim, for a book I completely forgot, but that which I will never forget as I have taken note of that same phrase in a Google Keep note.
I’ve always had it drilled in my mind that every human being – nay, every living being – in this here planet is made up of a mishmash soup of so many
This idea started quite innocently in my angsty teenage years. That I am made up of so many contradicting things. A walking contradiction, if you may. Sassy yet shy, loud yet quiet, hopeful yet emo. (oh god, I was too emo akssksks)
But that thought really drove itself home to me when, years later in college, I watched a video essay on Hayao Miyazaki. It was about so many good Miyazaki things, but mostly it tackled on how brilliantly he instilled in his works the idea that everyone has both a good side and a bad side. I even wrote a post inspired by this same essay! If you’ve watched any of his films – particularly, Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa – you know what I mean.
But over the
past couple of years, I’ve come to realise how this Gray Area Thinking is
applicable in every aspect of life.
And this is
my focus for 2020. Not a word, not a goal, not even a project. (Even though I
love words and I’m rebuilding my relationship with goals and I have damn too
I want to
remind myself that seemingly contradicting things can exist at the same time and that this is natural for so many things in life.
Yes, I am a
hopeless romantic and love reading kilig stories. But I don’t
necessarily feel that kind of romance in my life – and that’s a-okay!
Yes, I enjoy
interacting on social media and sharing very personal parts of my life online.
But I also enjoy my privacy and have every right to firmly establish my
boundaries whenever for the sake of my own wellbeing.
Yes, I worry
for our environment. But I also love to eat meat and use leather products – and
I will do so in the most sustainable and practical way possible.
Yes, life is
short and we’ll all die, one way or another. But that does not mean I will
readily submit to my fated end without proactively seeking a life well lived on
my own terms.
Yes, we all
need to try and get out of our comfort zone in order to grow. But we also need
to acknowledge the peace it brings at times when things get too overwhelming.
positivity is important. But acknowledging the negative things help too.
Yes, we are
all entitled to our own opinion. But it does not need to come at the expense of
others getting hurt.
Yes, we have to be mindful of how our actions affect other people. But this does not mean we need to be Mind Readers and instantly know what the other person is thinking.
only exist in the rarest of places like in the fields of science and data
programming. (I guess. I think…?)
This used to
make me anxious. If I can’t know whether someone or something is good or
bad, how am I supposed to choose? But with every new day, I realise the
kind of freedom it offers. I no longer have to place things in neat boxes. All
I need to do is imagine things – all the things – thrown in one huge
cauldron. Something can be sweet while also having a hint of spiciness. One can
be good but it can also be bad, and vice versa.
Paradoxical truths exist all around us. And we are all made up of mishmash soup of seemingly contradicting things. The whole lot of us. Things aren’t as black and white as one may perceive. The Gray Area is a vast, far-reaching creature. It blurs the line from either side of the spectrum.
For more reading on the paradoxes of life, check out the articles below:
I feel like this has been the go-to advice people give to others. Like ceramic cherubs are the go-to souvenirs in weddings, and McDonald’s is the go-to place for eating greasy food. (Except in the Philippines. We kneel only for our lord and master, Jollibee.)
And I have a problem with that. (The advice, not Jollibee.)
Let me be clear, though. I do not completely, wholeheartedly hate this advice. I am all for going after what you love and seeking your own version of joy in life through the things you are passionate about. Whenever I come across inspiring stories of people finding success in doing things they love, I telepathically send my congratulations and throw them colorful confetti.
But I have a bone to pick with how “follow your passion” has somehow become penicillin. A cure-all advice for any career and life woes.
Not sure what you wanna do? Follow your passion.
Unhappy with your job? Follow your passion!
Wanna be successful? Follow! Your! Passion!
I know this as someone who was given this same advice for many career and life struggles. Be that with my career, or with my identity as a creative, or with life as a whole. It was such a shiny new thing, this advice. So I heeded it and expended most of my energy into it.
To be fair, for a while, it worked. But that’s the thing with “follow your passion”: it only works for a while.
Why “Follow Your Passion” is A Bad Advice to Give
The more I think about it, the more I realize that “follow your passion” is a McAdvice. It’s a short-term fix for hunger, not supposed to be the sole composition of your entire diet. When I said I had a bone to pick with this McAdvice, I was lying. I have three bones to pick.
First off, it’s vague af
You know how in stories, the most clichéd answer to “Where are we going?” is “You’ll know it when we get there.”
Every single time I hear that line, I want to hURL something across the room.
It’s up there in my list of “Top 10 Clichés I Want Thanos-Snapped and Gone Forever.” And the reason why I hate that line is the same reason why I find “follow your passion” a bad advice. It’s vague as fuck.
Is it helpful? Perhaps. But can you go anywhere with this advice alone? I don’t think so.
You start thinking it’s that One Thing™
You know, as much as it’s good being told you’ve got that one thing by five good-looking boys, that’s not the case when it comes to finding and following your passion.
And “follow your passion” implies that you can only be passionate about one thing in your entire life.
People aren’t only passionate about just one thing. At least not everyone. Which is why I find it ridiculous advising others to find that one passion and follow that one passion for, like, ever.
As the popular saying goes, “Change is the only constant thing in this world.” Life itself is naturally fluid and flexible. The things we loved as kids may not be something we love now. I used to think McDonald’s burger was the superior burger but now I believe Jollibee’s have the best fast food burger. And even my burger loyalty may change in the future!
Why, then, must we limit our passions — the prime sources of inner exhilaration and excitement — to just one thing?
“Follow your passion” makes everything seem so freaking easy
There is this notion that by following your passion, the rest will just fall into place. Admittedly, that’s quite romantic but it’s also disregarding the nuances and complexities of life.
“Follow your passion” is an advice that does not consider human’s inherent changing nature.
Look, I’m not saying that, when it comes to a meaningful career and life, passion is a non-factor. Of course, it is! But it isn’t the only factor, nor is it the biggest one — at least, it isn’t the biggest factor all the time.
A happy, fulfilling life does not rely solely on finding and following a passion.
Which then leads me to ask: when trying to create a meaningful life, why must we be so laser-focused on passion?
Passion, Our Fleeting Friend
When you think about passion, you think about intensity. You think about how it’s burning into your very being, calling you to do The Thing and to do it now. And when you listen to its call, there is this sense of complete uninhibited joy. This mix of delight and accomplishment. It’s an amazing feeling.
That intensity may run incredibly long.
But it can also run incredibly short.
Passion is erratic. Like its close cousin, Inspiration, it knocks on the doors of our hearts at the most unexpected times. It likes to bring interesting goodies and playtoys, those both old and new. Passion urges us to do things and we oblige happily. Then it leaves whenever, and we are at a loss and with no clue how to finish what we’ve started.
As a creative, I’ve relied heavily on both Passion and Inspiration to forge ahead with my creative endeavours. And I can tell you that they are, in fact, not so reliable and not always available.
Will I stay friends with them? Abso-freaking-lutely. I love them to death. I enjoy their company. You know how some friends you meet once in a while and you don’t tell them your entire life story or share your insecurities? But also that doesn’t make your friendship any less precious? Passion and Inspiration are simply that kind of friends.
So rather than “follow your passion”, what can you do to lead a meaningful life?
Follow your curiosity.
Way back in 2017, I first heard these three words from Elizabeth Gilbert. It felt like a personal breakthrough. Here was my door out of this passion, be all end all mindset that I’ve been stuck in for a long time. And boy, it was freeing.
Passion is fleeting and finite; curiosity is everywhere. It works as a subtle nudge your way. I love how Robert J.K. Lee describes it:
Curiosity moves in ways that could be described as gentle, contemplative, unusual and even pensive. As an elemental metaphor, Curiosity acts like water. It is shapeless, but it interacts with you in different ways. […] Curiosity invites you to cast attention and notice something that you hadn’t before.
When I think of that one thing that Curiosity gently guided me towards, watercolor comes to mind.
I was scrolling through Instagram one time. Back then, I was new to the platform and didn’t know what it was for. But it recommended one video of someone demonstrating how to paint loose floral illustrations using watercolor.
And I was entranced. Like seriously. I felt like I was three years old again and I just watched Teletubbies for the very first time.
It was a whole new kind of magic. The way the paints flow to where water is, the way two colors interacted with each other. The way these tiny puddles of color turned into petals and then magically, a flower.
I was hooked.
Looking back, I could have simply stayed hooked and kept on watching. But already Curiosity was there, gently tapped on my shoulder and whispered,
What is that?
The first few months, I bought everything cheap from the department store office supplies. My first ever paints and brushes and papers were the ones you used in middle school, but I was too damn excited to try to even care. I tried painting flowers and leaves. I tried to do flat wash. (Because holy shit, you can make something close to solid from such a fragile-looking pigment??? 2016 Kate ain’t ready for gouache.)
And you know what? I SUCKED.
My flowers looked like rotting plants. When I tried painting a galaxy the first time, it was like a zombie wasn’t feeling well and it vomited brains. Everything I painted was godawful. There were definitely times when I wanted to give up and go back to my black and white ink art. But every time, I’d feel Curiosity lightly tapping behind me.
Hmm… what if I mix these two colors…
What would it look like if I sketched a person first?
I wonder what would happen if I use both inks and watercolor…
Curiosity, Our Guiding Friend
In retrospect, many of the things I’m now passionate about were born out of curiosity. I didn’t even realize it but at some point, Curiosity had already handed me over to Passion. Because that’s what Curiosity does.
I really want to stress this out. When I say follow your curiosity, I’m not saying it will eventually guide you to your passion or even your purpose. Following your curiosity may lead you to your passion. But sometimes it doesn’t. And that’s okay. That is not the point of all this.
Perhaps you’d feel excitement and delight. Maybe you’d even feel that complete and utter joy when the curious things become passion things. Or maybe you won’t. Maybe you’d lose the interest before it could become something grand.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
The moment you lose interest, let it go. Keep only the memories andand the learnings. Carry on following your curiosity. See where it leads you this time around. What adventure, or non-adventure, it has in store. Experience the moment fully and treasure what lessons it gives.
Isn’t that, in and of itself, what meaningful life is all about?
Way back in the middle of July, I decided to try out bullet journaling again (for the third time) and that I’d start in August. But then August came around and I was just too occupied with wrapping things up in my previous job that I did not have the time to set it all up.
Well, now that I’m basically jobless for two weeks, I’ve decided to finally set it up – this time, in preparation for September – so yay!
Before that, a bit of history between me and bullet journaling
The first time I heard about bullet journaling, I thought it was interesting. The idea of a systematic way to organize your life (or certain parts of your life) and add in a touch of your own creativity to it? Brilliant. Million dollar concept. Where do I sign up.Then, the idea that it’s all personalized, and therefore you must completely make the entire thing yourself, sank in.
This is too much work, I thought and gave up.
I think I only managed to make a monthly calendar that first time. I didn’t even get to use it. The subsequent times I attempted bullet journaling, I had a similar pattern. A vicious cycle, if you must.
My life (as usual) was in utter chaos > desperate for a semblance of order > thinks bullet journaling is the solution > finds it laborious > gives up.
The reason I decided to try out bullet journaling again isn’t really that different from the first two times I tried it out. A part of my life needs tidying up Marie Kondo-style and bullet journals are still very much a huge thing. I enjoy seeing people share their journal spreads online like Myrthe with her aesthetically pleasing Instagram page, and Lauren with her fun blog posts on all things bullet journals. These rekindled the teeny tiny interest that I had for bullet journaling. And as they say, three times the charm, so I decided to give it a third try.
Trying out bullet journaling for the third time
I thought I’d be more intentional this time around and so I did a bit of research (aka watched bullet journal videos on Youtube). One key thing that I learned from them bullet journal masters is that no one started out with Pinterest-worthy spreads. And you might notice, this is me relearning the whole “nobody started out perfect” thing all over again. An especially great tip I got from AmandaRachLee is to know your purpose for starting out a bullet journal. In my case, it’s to KonMari the heck out of my creative life.
Which is why I only have four spreads on my September bullet journal: a cover, the monthly calendar (+ goals for the month), art habit tracker, and a special “books/mangas/anime I watched/read” spread.
My September bullet journal
The cover is, essentially, um… useless. I only made it because I’m using an old journal already half-filled with sketches and doodles. (I am not buying a new journal for this.) And also, it’s for funsies! I like the botanical lineart I got going and it’s also the general theme for the rest of the spreads.
The monthly calendar is there to help me remember commitments I pre-booked mostly. I find that the older I get, the more my memory is becoming that of a goldfish. (And I’m only in my early twenties *llama cries*)
I also have a box underneath where I listed my goals for the month. I wrote down some personal stuff I do not wish to share at the moment so you’ll just have to settle on my prettily painted hands. But yes, one of my goals is to finish reading ONE BOOK. As you can see, my bar for progress right now is so low. But that’s okay – progress is progress. <3
Art Habit Tracker
The art habit tracker is really the main spread, I guess. I’ll be using it to track how many times I drew during the month and which of my many art ideas became an illustration on that month. I have tons of spaces left which I’ll probably fill in with additional stuff, if I so deem fit. But other than that, it’s really just me building and tracking my art habit.
What I’m Reading & Watching
Finally, there’s the books/manga/anime page that’s a more self-indulgent section. I’ve been reading tons of manga and Webtoon comics lately and just having a physical place where I list brief thoughts on them would be great.
Also, I love the quote on the next page because I know I will have moments where I’ll be lazy and won’t want to check in on my journal.
Overall, some people may find this too simple but I’m good with that. I don’t want to overwhelm myself (again) so a simple bullet journal for this month is good enough for me.
Do you have a bullet journal? How long have you been doing it? In what other ways do you KonMari your life?
We know this. I know this. You know this. That old man sitting at a nearby park probably doesn’t care about art improvement but, still, even he knows this.
It is the one of The Most Frustrating Thing Ever. Why couldn’t I just be good at the things I like to do in an instant? Like, why do learning curves even have to exist?? Why can’t I just become the next Einstein or the next Picasso or the next Marie Curie tomorrow???
You’re probably not as dramatically ambitious as yours truly, but I bet you’ve been frustrated and impatient before, right?
The Case of Improvement for Artists (hint: iz torture)
I love progress. And if you’re a self-improvement junkie like myself, obviously, one of your biggest goals in life is to consistently be a better version of yourself. But progress is slow and tedious and it kills me. (Well, not really literally. But you know what I mean.) Creative progress, especially, is a specific kind of torture for me.
See, I’ve always been an impatient person. But I’m more so an impatient creator. When it comes to my art and my writing, I want to hurry, hurry, hurry.
Hurry up and improve on your anatomy, Kate.
Hurry up and draw good noses, Kate.
Hurry up and write engaging stories, Kate.
Hurry up and create awesome content, Kate.
Hurry up, Kate.
I keep on pushing myself to hurry hurry hurry. That I need to keep moving forward. That I need to get better. And the thing is, in art, you don’t really see you’re improving. So I become even more greedy. I become more and more frustrated, and more and more impatient of myself.
Sometimes, to a point where I’m mentally scolding myself for not seemingly getting better.
We are our harshest critic already. But with myself and to myself, I am unforgiving. I never tolerated even an ounce of imperfection. It’s sad. Because we are also our most frequent company.
Can you imagine being in the company of someone so critical of you?
That drive for art improvement became toxic. I made it toxic, and it backfired. And so, in an attempt to gently remind myself that um Kate? You HAVE improved tho, I did the #DrawThisAgain art meme. It’s where you try to draw an old art and see the differences and changes.
I chose a really old work, one I did in 2016. Back when I still a complete watercolor noob and just starting out. I loved it — I still do. But recreating it with all the creative arsenal I picked up for three years, it was amazing.
And once I was done and took a step back, I thought to myself, “If 2016 watercolor noob Kate could only see me now…” I mean, I know she would never see the me now. That’s just how it is.
Who you are, right this second, will never get to see how much you’ll improve in the future.
But who you are, right this second, is also the only one who can look back to where you’ve come from and see how far you’ve come.
I now take comfort in having this truth. I’m probably going to tuck myself into it forever. Because, man, it’s far far better than the rusty old thoughts of “Not Being Enough.”
In business and management, looking at historical data is a sensible way of self-evaluation. But looking back is also a gift. A gentle reminder to your all-too-focused self, a small shift in perspective. That you are doing just fine.
So here I am, doing exactly that.
I first published this post on my Patreon page but I added a few words and wrote additional thoughts. You may see the original post, in its infancy, here.
Finally getting the guts to actually write something for this here blog. After months of burying myself into a mound of Webtoon comics, manga, and anime series. And subconsciously forgetting about my art, my blog, and the rest of my creative life.
Sure, I’ve put out a few great artworks the past few months, but even the dopamine hit of posting them into my art insta and being praised for them was short-term.
Work has ultimately taken up much of my daylight hours. Which is weird because, honestly, I have not done a lot at work these past three months. The “busy” moments happen every start of the month but even those days don’t exactly feel exhilarating. Plus, there were other things happening in my personal life, like my grandma’s passing, that I don’t exactly want to talk about too much.
At the end of the day, only one thing mattered:
I felt deeply depressed and completely unsatisfied.
Allowing myself to be buried underneath all that, I did not do anything. At least, nothing actionable or noteworthy.
I simply made myself be carried away by the flow of life. Wake up early, ride the bus, get to work and clock out by 5:30pm, ride the bus home while probably reading a manga or watching an episode.
And it really hit me: how utterly boring and glum that is. How you basically have zero agency on the one thing you should hold influence the most:
Your own fucking life.
Excuse my French but, really, there was no sugar-coating this.
My art is suffering. I’ve been consuming great masterpieces — on Instagram and Webtoons and various anime — and yet have not taken what inspiration I got from them and mold them into my own creation.
My blog is suffering. I’ve been having doubts with writing in the personal development niche recently. I did not want to read any “Simple Tips to Live Your Best Life” kinds of blog posts because I started to find them empty and repetitive.
Consequently, my life is suffering.
…Buuut that’s too complicated a topic and too long to tackle in even a 1000-word post. So let’s focus for now on what’s next in line up there. Which is also what is, quite frankly, the most important points I should be discussing.
On blogging and the personal growth niche
I’m not gonna deny it — I LOVE the personal growth niche. The community built around this like-minded desire to grow and improve is a fascinating one. I’m so happy to be a part of it, no matter how small my contribution may be.
But there’s a huge difference in writing about the truth you discovered to live a happier life and listing down “6 easy tips” to be happier.
I’ve read the same kind of posts, given the same kind of advice over and over again. (“Take a long walk” is one of those advice that, as of writing, is currently fueling up a massive discourse over in MH Twitter, by the way.) And the thing is, for me right now, these kinds of advice just feel… lackluster. Empty. They aren’t enough.
I’m sure there are people out there who just wanted the quick reminder or that tiny push. And maybe, for them, these posts are exactly what they need. Heck, there have been plenty of times when they were exactly what I needed too. But right now, it’s not what I’m looking for. It is not what I need. And in effect, these kinds of posts are not what I want to write about.
It took me a long time to come to terms with this. Because continuing felt like an obligation – and in effect, quitting felt like a self-condemnation. This “duty” I think I have for the readers of this blog. But then, I realize:
Wait a sec.Forcing myself to write a topic I don’t like is a disservice to myself AND to my readers.
And this is an advice I often give to fellow bloggers too.
Like, gee, Kate. At least follow the advice you made, yeah?
With that said, here’s what’s going to happen with All the Trinkets moving forward.
No empty listicles.
I’m not going to totally abandon listicles. Besides, it’s the kind of blog post that’s very easy to write. But I vow never to create those empty, repetitive listicles in my blog from now on. No more “6 easy steps for a happier life”.
Life, I found, is much more complicated to go through. But at the same time, life is simple – but no, it is never easy.
Instead, I just want to write about the truth. My truth, anyway. The truth I learned along the way. The small ones, and the ohmigosh-this-is-a-huge-eureka-moment ones.
Outside of these blog posts that borders on “life” and “personal development,” I also want to write more about art and creative living. And, like, no more of those general, all-around, free-for-all creativity topics. Starting today, I want to write only about my own creative experiences. My creative truths. (Which is kinda fancy-schmancy but, whattayouknow, it fits.)
This all may seem selfish but…
To be honest, for a long time, I write with you, my readers, heavily on my mind. Sure, I think about myself too. And it so happens that, for the past couple years, what people enjoyed reading and what I enjoyed writing aligned.
But the fact is, I no longer enjoy writing the same topics. In these same perspectives and this same format. Maybe in a few years, I’d go back to loving it. Maybe. But for right now, I need to step away from all these. Explore new ways to write and express myself in this ever-changing blog of mine.
Speaking of my blog changing…
To align with this kinda sorta new way of me blogging, I’ve decided to change the look of my blog. Yes, again. Don’t worry it’s going to be a long project and I’ll tweak some elements here and there gradually. But it’s gonna happen.
The way I think it, my blog changes and reshapes and transforms when I, too, change and reshape and transform.
Before anything else, this is my place in the Interwebs. My small, humble place.
And like with any kind of challenge we face in life, if the way forward for me and this small humble place of mine in the Interwebs is to change things up, then… Challenge accepted.
To all the readers who have followed me up ‘til now, I truly appreciate all of you. I hope you continue with me as I embark in a new chapter with this blog. And if not, well no worries. Thanks for being with me anyway, however long that may be.
At 11:23 in the morning, a young girl who has only ever cooked eggs and rice in her life was in the kitchen with the stove top on. She was chopping an onion, preparing for her younger sister’s meal when she accidentally sliced her finger. As she ran around looking for Band Aids, she heard her uncle laughing in the living room. It was the kind of laugh that was three-quarters snort and a quarter derision.
“If you can’t even chop onions without hurting yourself, you’ll never be cut out as a chef.”
Now, the girl never thought she would ever be a Michelin-star cook. She has never even aspired to run her own restaurant. But those words still cut through her heart and crushed her.
I’m telling you this story for a reason. And I hope by now you get it.
We all have that one person in our lives, that young girl’s uncle. Someone who aces at being a Jamie Raincloud. A put-downer. A positivity vampire (you know, someone who sucks the positivity out of you).
And sometimes, it doesn’t even matter if what they’re saying is actually a big deal to you or not. You would still be hurt.
And as much as I want to explore that complicated area of feeling hurt on things that ultimately don’t matter, I want to take a rain check on that for now.
What I really want to focus here is that subtle nag at perfection and success the uncle in the story did. It’s like he was saying that the young girl, who has barely cooked a meal in her life, cannot be a chef just because she hurt herself in the middle of cooking. That someone completely novice can’t become a master all because of committing one common mistake.
Now, as an avid fan of Masterchef Australia for the past couple years, I think that’s loaded bullcrap.
I know for a fact that even home cooks, those people who are passionate about food and cooking, can hurt themselves in the middle of a panicky situation. Those well-renowned chefs only seem effortlessly perfect and successful in the kitchen now because of all the mistakes and little injuries they got early on in their careers. Mistakes that, well, they learned from. Their so-called perfection and success are only achievable by learning through their failures.
See, we all make tiny mistakes.
[bctt tweet=”To say that one tiny mistake can cost you your success or your career or your entire life is utterly foolish.” username=”@allthetrinkets”]
For years, I’ve had this voice whispering to me, my very own inner negative uncle. That perfectionist, positivity vampire telling me every tiny mistake I’ve done is pushing me farther and farther from perfection and success. I guess, these voices contributed to the anxious-filled, overthinking perfectionist that I have become.
Just last month, I was on my way to my first ever job interview. And I forgot to bring any valid I.D. to get inside the building. All throughout the bus ride, I kept thinking how I have screwed things up. They’re never gonna interview me because I’m incompetent. The HR of the company will whisper it throughout all the HR of all other companies in the city. No one will hire me. And so, I am an utter failure.
All these thoughts… because I left my I.D.
But see here’s the thing: I am still here. I’m still alive. And little by little, I’m moving forward. Making progress and achieving small successes.
We, as a society, have reached a point where we condemn or ridicule every mundane mistake a person has made. And to be honest, it’s not a great time to be in. We can be so hung up on the smallest details and the tiniest flaws. So much so, that we forget to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
And I’m not saying mistakes are great. They aren’t, obviously. Mistakes suck balls. But judging someone’s character based on the mistakes they did is a bit… unfair, don’t you think?
So if you’re like me, beating yourself over every small mistakes you commit, here’s a reminder:
[bctt tweet=”No one should ever be measured by the mistakes they did. Your failures cannot measure what you are worth. And it should never.” username=”@allthetrinkets”]
It’s how you respond after such failures that matters more. Be it changing for the better. Or striving for improvement and progress, whatever that may be for you.
I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
How do YOU define perfection and success? Have you ever had a non-dream be shattered before? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments!
As my boy, Li Shang, famously said, let’s get down to business. If you’re here right now, I’m willing to bet you’ve been in that kind of sloppy hell: The Slow, Sloppy Hell of Feeling Unproductive.
It isn’t exactly painful outright. It’s one of those slow-burns. And it burns from the inside out. It targets your self-confidence and motivation and self-determination ever so gradually until they’re nothing but ashes.
Sound familiar? Don’t worry, friend. I’m here.
Let me help you douse that flame now before it continues to spread. Here are three reasons why you’re not achieving anything right now and what you can do about it.
Why You are Feeling Unproductive Today and What You Can Do About It
1) You are busy doing other less important things
Look, I get it. We’ve all been there. We’ve all said we had an unproductive day. That we weren’t able to accomplish that one thing because we were too busy on other things.
But were you?
Were you really busy with other things? Or suppose you actually were busy, were you too busy on something that’s actually relevant?
Maybe, like me, you were only doing this thing they call procrastination.
Take it from someone who went to the Procrastinators’ School of Making Excuses. There is a difference between being occupied and pretending to be busy. Learn it. Know what signs to look for.
Be self-aware when you start making excuses. Over time, you’ll find it easier to spot them. I noticed that excuses always have a different tone than truth — even those we say in our heads.
What You Can Do:
You’re probably familiar with the Eisenhower Matrix. Where you arrange the tasks you need to do under levels of importance and urgency. This way, you can eliminate a task that is neither important nor urgent. And then you can focus your energy and present time on things that are actually important or urgent. Or both!
2) You’re a perfectionist
It may seem counterintuitive, saying that being a perfectionist is making you unproductive. Like, won’t my perfectionist tendency make me more productive?
I know this because, aside from being a Master Procrastinator, heck I’m a Master Perfectionist too.
When you’re so focused on having everything — and I mean, every tiny detail — perfect, you end up getting fewer tasks done.
See, perfectionism takes up a lot of time by forgetting time. When you’re nitpicking on the small stuff, when you’re putting 120% of your attention on that tiny area in your project, you forget about everything else. Including time. And if you have that special hybrid I call perfection procrastination, you waste time by doing mundane, unimportant tasks. When you should be working on the ones that matter.
What You Can Do:
Give yourself the permission to fail.
Remember: choose finished, not perfect.
Let that sink into your mind. The idea of not succeeding at first try isn’t so bad. What’s important is that you learned from your failures and mistakes. And these lessons will actually help you get closer and closer to success.
3) You’re feeling unproductive because you’re mentally or emotionally stuck. Or both.
Being stuck stems from various causes. Perhaps you’re having a writer’s block. Or experiencing a creative draught. Maybe you just have zero inspiration to write or do anything.
The thing is, a lot of our physical tasks are partly powered by our inner resources. Some even more so than others.
This shouldn’t come off as a surprise anymore. The immediate connection between our physical health and mental wellbeing has been proven in so many studies. Our physical health is as affected by our mental wellbeing as the other way around.
Which means poor mental health can be the cause of physical fatigue. And therefore, you feel unproductive.
In order to do the things you need to do, you must also pay attention to these inner resources–inspiration, motivation, and mental stability, to name a few. Because when we lack or don’t have such resources, we become mentally or emotionally paralyzed. Literally unable to work even when we are physically able to do it.
What You Can Do:
Along with your physical health, take care of your mental and emotional well-being too. Exercising is just as good for your mind as it is for your body. Having a well-rounded healthy lifestyle that takes into consideration your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing is imperative — whatever life you may live. Create that balance, yes? BIG YES.
I WANNA HEAR FROM YOU!
Have you got more tips for those who are feeling unproductive? Share your wisdom in the comments below!
Remember when I said last month, I hope February was going to be kinder to me than January? February was like, “NOPE! Not gonna.”
On a more positive note, though! I have new graphics for Side Notes, whee! Figured it was about time. That old one was getting… well, old.
Side Notes is a monthly wrap up where I share the interesting, and incredibly inspiring things I found during the month that I couldn’t fit in any post. Expect awesome recs, awesome books and awesome bloggers.
Also expect: fangirling (lots of it) and a glimpse into my life — the happy, the chaos and all.
You know how last month my recommendations were both educational apps? Welp, today I’m recommending two of my recent fave series!
I’m going to put it out there: this is anime. And before you scroll further thinking, “Oh, that isn’t my cup of tea.” Hear me out first!
This anime series revolves around a young girl who knew nothing of life outside her military background. Now that the war is over, she has to learn what it is like to live outside the front lines of a battlefield. (Wow, someone hire me to make blurbs. I think that’s a fair, non-spoilery one.)
It’s a coming-of-age series, my favorite anime genre after fantasy and slice-of-life, and it is heartbreakingly beautiful. It may revolve around Violet Evergarden, the young girl I mentioned above, but it’s more than just her story. The entire series is jam-packed with stories about love and family and self-growth. Not to mention, the animation is just BREATHTAKING. And y’all I’m not just saying that because Kyoto Animation, my all-time fave anime studio, produced it.
You can watch Violet Evergarden on Netflix now. Please watch it. (And if you do or did, hit me an email or slide a DM wherever. I want to talk about this and none of my friends has watched it yet!!)
This is another series I recently got into that I think not a lot of people generally know. Like Violet Evergarden, you would only know about Heartstopper if you’re in the community. (The anime community in Violet Evergarden’s case, the book community in this one’s.)
Heartstopper is a webcomic written and illustrated by YA author Alice Oseman. It’s about two adorable soft bois being adorable together. An openly gay boy who overthinks for a living, and a soft-hearted guy who’s still figuring out his sexuality.
That’s it. That’s the pitch.
Now here’s the thing. I’ve read books my whole life. Consequently, I’ve read tons of books while on public transportation. But I’ve never — and I mean never — cried on public because of a book. Ever. This webcomic? It’s responsible for my first-ever public book tears. It is that good. You can read Heartstopper on Tumblr or in the Tapas app.
Little Victories – Kickass Stuff that Happened This Month
I landed my first ever full-time job, y’all!
I’m getting on top of my Twitter game, ey!
My sleep is now regular!!! (It really was the lack of a structured routine omg! Once I was working, I’m already asleep at 10pm and up by 5am the next day. Could still need a little tweaking as I want to spend a bit more hours on my blog… but I’ll take it!)
Little Detours – What Kicked My Ass This Month
(because we’re not perfect, and it’s good to share your awful moments)
My blog game and all other social media games are not as strong as the Twitter one. As you may have noticed, I decided to go on a hiatus halfway through the month.
Little Milestones – Things I Want to Achieve or Do Next Month
(because according to Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies, I am an Obliger and I need outside accountability to reach personal goals)
A MINI-REVIEW ON THIS MONTH’S GOALS
Make no bake cheesecake. ✘ I was on the verge of becoming broke so I’m doing a rain check on this one.
Get interviewed by 5 companies. ✘ This didn’t happen BUT! I landed my job on the only company I got interviewed so yay!
Finish writing and scheduling March’s posts. ✘ Still writing up March’s post. Oh well.
GOALS FOR NEXT MONTH
Create a routine around work
Set aside 5,000 php to savings (That’s about $100, give or take)
Write and schedule posts
Last Month’s Self-Improvement Challenge
Eat fruit once a day. This didn’t happen BUT!!! I am eating fruit every other day so that’s a good start.
Next Month’s Self-Improvement Challenge
Finish one book. If I said I didn’t have much time reading books on February, I’d be lying. I just chose not to read any books. Now, I want to just finish one book. If I could just finish reading one, I’m good.
I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
How was your February? Was it awesome or did it suck so bad? Share to me everything!
It was a quiet afternoon. I was sitting back on a bench when my afternoon blog reading was interrupted by my friend’s huff.
“I’m pissed,” she announced as she sat beside me.
Putting away my phone, I asked her what happened. She wanted another friend of ours to do something for her but that other friend didn’t do it. When I asked her if she told our friend specifically what she wanted, she looked at me in a weird way. As if I just told her she grew mushrooms on her head.
It was pretty obvious what I needed, was what she replied.
At that time, I bit back what I wanted to say.
That I think she was wrong. Our other friend might not have known what she wanted.
See, here’s the thing: I understand my pissed friend’s pissed-ness. I get where she was coming from because I have felt that same way too. There are some things you just can’t obtain on your own. You will need other people’s help. And so you create these expectations towards those other people. You just assume that they’d easily understand what you need. Because what you need is pretty obvious, right?
Nope. It isn’t.
I mean, it might be super obvious – to you. But that’s because you know what you need. But other people? They usually have zero clue. The truth is, no one’s a super mind-reader.
No one holds the blueprint of your mind other than yourself.
[bctt tweet=”So if you really want things to happen, you have to do something about it. You have to reach out first.” username=”@allthetrinkets”]
Take the initiative and tell people what you want.
Want to meet up with an old friend you saw recently? Tell them you wanna hang out.
You want that guy beside you to stop invading your personal space? Let him know.
Maybe you think it’s high time for a pay raise? Knock on your boss’s door.
Look. People want to help you.
The people who care about you and want to see you succeed? They want to know if there’s anything they can do to get you to where you want to go. But if you want something from other people, you have to tell them about it. Otherwise, they wouldn’t know. They couldn’t help you get what you want if they have no clue what exactly it is you want.
So how can you get what you want by telling others? I’ve got 3 tips.
1. Tell them politely and with respect
I know, I know. This should be super obvious but I think it still needs to be emphasized: You wouldn’t get what you want if you’re rude.
I’ve witnessed people who like to show a sense of superiority by being demanding and belittling others. And okay… you miiight get what you want this way but you wouldn’t earn other people’s respect. Which would make dealing with them in the future difficult. Some people might even despise you if you did this.
And friend, I’m highly against burning bridges. The people you meet along the way? I believe you’ll meet them again. And when you do, you don’t want to be remembered as that rude doucheface who likes to scream at people.
A little kindness goes a long way. And to put it bluntly, a quicker transaction, even. Things go more smoothly when everyone’s in their happy place. Plus, you’ll likely leave the premises feeling quite positive and light-hearted.
I don’t know about you but I would pick that over that coldness and a doucheface rep any day.
2. Be as clear and concise as you can
This is something I learned from my Business Communications course. Clarity and conciseness is key to good communication. They will guide you and the other person to a better understanding of each other.
And to get what you want from other people, you need these two important ingredients too.
I know this is something I need to work on too. I’m aware that I can be roundabout with what I want to say. But I recently learned something from a fellow roundabout friend that I think is a great tip for anyone else struggling to be clear and concise. Which brings me to my third tip…
3. Have one point and make it your anchor.
That one point will keep your winding explanation grounded. It’s your North. So whenever it feels like you’re about to go off-topic, remember your anchor and steer your conversation back to it.
Maybe you’ve wanted to change careers and you’re meeting an acquaintance who’s working on the field you want to switch to. I know we tend to go off-topic lots of times in casual conversations. You could be reminiscing your high school lives, or talking about that girl you know from college. But remember your anchor and keep it close to you.
So when they ask you something work-related, you can say something like, “Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to tell you. I wanted to switch careers and I’m interested with the kind of work you do. Do you have any tips you can share to a newcomer like me?”
I bet you, your friend’s face will light up and tell you everything they know.
I‘m sure of this because I’ve been the asker and the askee on two separate occasions. So I know the people around you will tell you everything they know can help.
[bctt tweet=”The people around you want to help. Allow them to do so by telling them how.” username=”@allthetrinkets”]
I WANNA HEAR FROM YOU!
Let’s do this. Right here, right now. What do YOU want from other people? What can WE help you with?